The Ministry of Defence has maintained its objections to proposals for a wind farm near Ceres amid fears that the turbines proposed could interfere with vital radar signals for military aircraft.
It has emerged that the RAF recently carried out a test flight over the rural site using a Gazelle helicopter which was carrying a top Leuchars air traffic controller.
Now, the MOD has written to EnergieKontor, the applicants for the windfarm at Gathercauld, to say that any agreement proposed by the company to keep aircraft screened from interference through the maintenance of existing trees is “irrelevant”
The company wants to erect five 80 metres high turbines at the site, but has run into hefty local opposition.
The letter, which has been copied to Fife Council, has been sent by the head of safeguarding for defence estates, Julian Chafer, who said that screening likely to be offered by trees at St Andrews Wells Wood had been considered in some depth.
“I have had a colleague visit the wood to take photographs and consider the age, health, etc of the trees”
This information has been considered, he said, by personnel at the radio site protection team at RAF Henlow.
“We have also recently undertaken an informal flight trial using a Gazelle helicopter hovering at various altitudes above the site of the proposed turbines.
“RAF Leuchars senior air traffic controller(SATCO) was a passenger in the helicopter, and was in constant communication with ATC radar operators so the height of the helicopter above the ground could be recorded as it was tracked by radar.
“The conclusion is that the wood does not provide an adequate screen against the proposed turbines, so I am unable to lift the MOD’s objection to your planning application”
Yesterday Graham Lang, of Ceres and District Environment and Amenity Protection (CADEAP), the campaign group set up to fight the proposals, said that such an objection should be “terminal”.
He said that Defence Estates (MOD) are seeking to protect the operational integrity of RAF Leuchars, and that EnergieKontor had been informed back in July 2007 that the proposal was unacceptable.
“Despite all their attempts to overcome the problems the turbines would cause, Defence Estates are maintaining their objection having spent a great deal of time and money investigating EnergieKontor’s claims that their proposal would not impact on the safety of RAF Leuchars.
“MOD apart, our well prepared objections on planning, landscape, noise and residential amenity present a strong case against the proposed Ceres wind farm” he said.
It is not yet known when the planning application will come before the North East Fife area committee of Fife Council. It had been expected that the matter would come before today’s (Wed) meeting of the committee but essential reports are still unavailable.
30 January 2008
Ceres and District Environment & Amenity Protection (CADEAP): cadeap.org
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